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Dogs Who Bark And How To Quiet Them

Parent Category: Dog Talk
Created: 19 August 2014

We had two very large, gentle dogs holidaying with us, they both loved and craved attention and for the most part were very quiet and calm. Mind you when something did concern them they were not slow in barking VERY loud… and when one started the other would take it up with a vengeance. And particularly at 7am in the morning outside some pensioners’ bungalows I have to tell you I didn’t feel that this was at all welcome behaviour…

If you have a similar story then you may be interested in something that can work quite well. This works really well for our two collie girls and it also worked for the aforementioned “two very large, gentle dogs” we had staying with us (as you can imagine they also had very large, loud barks). They all know us as their ‘leaders’ and from this technique, they understand that they have done their job and are being lovingly thanked for their efforts.

This is not a method to stop barking on an ongoing basis, it is to quiet the dog at a point in time in relation to a particular issue that is present. For many of us of course there are times when we welcome the barking of our dogs — for example to put off an otherwise unwelcome approach or intruder at our home.

The technique that I am about to describe to you works in many circumstances so long as YOU ARE CALM and with dogs who have a gentle nature; it will not work for all dogs and is unlikely to work if you are anxious, upset or angry because that will feed the agitation in your dog.

Please note that dogs who are not naturally calm or are predisposed to displays of fear aggression will more than likely need a very different approach!

The Technique

So, a gentle way to quiet gentle natured dogs is to first noticeably pay attention to what they are barking at, so that they understand that you have seen it. If you have no idea what they are barking at, just look in the same direction as they are and study the scene for a moment or two to acknowledge that you understand. This tells your dog that the message has been received, understood and ‘shouting’ is no longer required. Then give at least verbal, if not also physical, praise (for example ‘good dog’ and a pat or a stroke). 

If the barking continues, while praising and stroking or otherwise giving physical affection, very gently take hold of the muzzle and hold the mouth closed — gently — and praise again or use a firm ‘no’ or ‘enough’. No need for shouting back at the dog, this may only escalate their concern.

Please remember that many dogs may find it provocative when you bend over them, especially when they are barking aggressively — so if in doubt and you need to bend to reach your dog, it is best to do it to the side of the dog otherwise you might find yourself causing an escalation to aggressive behaviour.

The point of the exercise in dog language is that having brought whatever it was to our attention and passed on the responsibility of dealing with it, they can return to their natural state of being calm and looking to you for leadership.

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This is just a snapshot… if you want to know more or have any questions about how to deal with a dog that barks when you’d rather they didn’t, please get in touch.

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Be Safe With Your Dogs!